As we enter the last two weeks of October, the desire to change up the topic or take a break from posting is looming. The realization that living through and within a Domestic Violence situation, as well as coming forward and writing about it, and then continuing down the path of advocacy is mentally exhausting, and at times takes a toll.
There are days that I don’t want to think about it or talk about it anymore. I just want it to go away and cease to exist. In my memory and in the present every day life of anyone else. Those thoughts always bring me back here to post something else to bring awareness to this disease that knows no boundaries and has no cure. Some people realize they have it and do everything in their power to rid themselves of it, some will not survive it and others will go years without ever knowing they are inflicted. It’s for those people that I shake off my exhaustion and address DVAM – Day 19.
Instead of coming up with another statistical fact, I wanted to come at this topic from a different aspect and see if there were any cultures that actually promote Domestic Violence. What I stumbled upon was something just as interesting:
Cultural Considerations in Recognizing and Responding to Domestic Violence
As in all areas of life, our cultural identities are present in domestic violence situations – situations in which we may be the abused, the abuser, or the colleagues who care to come to our aid.
Culture is the collection of learned beliefs, traditions, principles, and guides for behavior that are commonly shared among members of a particular group. We are all products of the cultures in which we live. And each of us is influenced by many “cultures” – ethnic, religious, geographic, socioeconomic, political, and more.
Sometimes we are marginalized because of our cultural connections. Sometimes we learn how to “get along” in what some people refer to as the dominant culture while still maintaining our own cultural values. Often we are stereotyped. We may be seen only as a member of a particular group, not as a unique individual.
While culture can strengthen a family, cultural influences may also create obstacles when working with parties in a domestic violence situation. Understanding a person’s culture and belief systems can be helpful in successfully working with that person.
There are cultural considerations in recognizing and responding to situations of domestic violence. The key is to be sensitive to people’s beliefs and actions. A cultural specialist can assist in responding sensitively.
Persons of Color in General
Often people of color hesitate to call law enforcement or to become involved with the justice system because of their community’s or their personal experiences with the system. Native Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans often feel they betray their “people” when they notify law enforcement and other system professionals.
• Counseling services may be seen as something that only “crazy” people receive. This may cause a Latino to seek assistance from a priest or doctor before turning to counseling services.
• Eye contact with an authority figure is considered a sign of disrespect rather than respect.
• Language may be a frustration and a barrier. Employing the services of an advocate who speaks Spanish can make a Latino feel more comfortable.
• For Latinos new to the United States, isolation from resources in a new country can present huge problems and may force them to remain silent about their problems.
• For Latinos residing illegally in the United States, deportation is a great and real concern and can prevent them from seeking help from the legal system and law enforcement.
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities
Domestic violence exists in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community at about the same rate as in the heterosexual community. It is often hard for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender victims to recognize that they are in a violent relationship because such things have been portrayed as only happening between the sexes, not within the same sex. Once they do realize that they are in such a relationship, it is hard for them to seek help because of the homophobic environment of many communities and the fear of being “outed” to family and friends. The fact of being homosexual can jeopardize child custody, immigration, and legal status.
The system lacks appropriate responses to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender domestic violence. Law enforcement officers often assume the violence is mutual and arrest both parties or assume that the stronger partner committed the violence and arrest that person. Homosexual individuals may receive prejudicial treatment from all segments of the system (law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, and victim advocates). Few shelters are available for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals.
Because Jewish women often encounter anti-Semitic stereotyping – often stamped as abrasive, emasculating, and overbearing or pampered, demanding, and self-centered – a Jewish woman may not evoke sympathy from the public or a court of law. She also may incur hostility within her community in accusing a Jewish man of physical abuse. Jews believe that exposing Jewish misconduct to the non-Jewish community is a shame that brings disgrace to all Jews in that each shoulders the burden of representing an entire people. An abused woman who reports abuse may even be considered a traitor, undermining efforts to combat the more pressing issue of anti-Semitism.
Orthodox Jewish women have additional barriers. Even though an Orthodox Jewish woman may seek a protective order, she may be unable to obtain a divorce under Jewish law unless the abuser dies or is willing to grant a divorce. Without a divorce under Jewish law, the woman still belongs to her Jewish husband. She has no standing in the Jewish community. Any children born of a second marriage are considered illegitimate and shunned by the Orthodox Jewish community. For women whose life revolves around family and children, leaving an abusive situation is an extremely difficult decision.
Cultural and individual barriers for victims of domestic violence can include a victim’s lack of fluency in English, sense of fear or shame, and feelings of isolation. Institutional barriers include complex immigration policies and racism ingrained in many areas that traditionally offer protection to battered women.
Islam condemns all forms of violence against women. Qur’anic text states that “men are the protectors and maintainers of women because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next) do not share their beds, (and last) beat (tap) them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance); for Allah is Most High, Great (above you all).” (4:34 as noted in “Wife Beating?” by Dr. Jamal Badawi,”). “Any excess, cruelty, family violence, or abuse committed by a ‘Muslim’ can never be traced, honestly, to any revelatory text (Qur’an or hadith). Such excesses and violations are to be blamed on the person(s) himself, as it shows that they are paying lip service to Islamic teachings and injunctions and failing to follow the true Sunnah of the Prophet.” (For true Classic Quranic Arabic translation please see the comment section below.)
“It is clearly true that the husband is the head of the household and must be obeyed in all things that are not against the Will of Allah. Obedience to one’s husband is one of the identifying characteristics of a Muslim wife. It is that which sets Muslim wives apart from non-Muslim wives. It is in that obedience that the avoidance of spouse abuse may sometimes lie. The legal system in the United States has set up a set of circumstances where the husband is seen as the ‘perpetrator’ and the sole responsible party in cases of battering. It fails to look at the precipitating factors. And, while it is true that a man is responsible for his own behavior legally and Islamically, it is also true that a woman can come to know her husband in such a way as to understand how to ‘push his buttons’ and precipitate the abuse. The latest research verifies this new ‘understanding’ of spouse abuse.”
“Muslim women often feel compelled to stay in abusive relationships as it is believed that they are supposed to ‘obey their husbands.’ Women feel pressure to not bring shame to their family by revealing the abuse in their marriage and believe that it is their responsibility to maintain peace in the home. Abused women often feel abandoned by family, friends, and God. Rather than offering protection and help to battered women, imams and community leaders often advise women to return to violent homes and be ‘better wives’ by ‘trying harder to please their husband’ . . . implying that they are somehow responsible for the abuse, that if they really were ‘good’ they would not get abused. Nothing can be further from the truth.”
African American Communities
African Americans, including African American women suffer deadly violence from family members at rates decidedly higher than for other racial groups in the United States. However, it is observed that research concerning family violence among African Americans is inadequate.
Factors such as the breakdown of families, unemployment and underemployment, poor schools, inadequate vocational skills and training, bad housing, the influence and use of drugs, and the density of liquor stores in the inner city contribute to the problem of domestic violence. All of these ingredients may compound and coalesce into a strong undercurrent of frustration that can lead to domestic violence.
“Many Black women may find it harder to leave a battering relationship than White women. The reasons for this are unclear, but some possible explanations include the following: (1) African American women have fewer options in their search for a marital partner than do White women; (2) African American women on average, have a lower income level than that of most White women; (3) Black women are reluctant to call the police because they see the racial injustice in the criminal justice system; (4) community support systems including women’s shelters and other service programs may be less available to them and they may view the shelter system movement as something mainly to benefit White women. Unfortunately, many Black women resort to ‘homicide’ as an answer to the violence and battering they encounter”.
Some immigrants coming to the United States are more likely to be victims of continued domestic violence because of the threat of removal (deportation). The federal government’s Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) can help immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence. Children of an abused woman may also qualify. VAWA was created by Congress in 1994 and amended in 2000.
Under VAWA, eligible applicants may qualify for deferred action status in the United States and work authorization. In addition, an approved VAWA petition may allow a victim to receive certain federal public benefits. Ultimately, a VAWA benefit recipient may be able to apply for permanent resident status on her own.
Typically, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is an immediate relative must file a petition for permanent resident status for an immigrant. But VAWA allows an abused woman to file for legal status by herself.
To qualify for VAWA, a person must be able to document the following elements to the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS):
- the abuse was committed by a husband, and;
- the husband is a U.S. citizen, or a legal permanent resident (LPR), and;
- the marriage was a marriage of good faith, and;
- the victim is an individual of good moral character.
A divorce or legal separation occurring after papers are filed for self-petition will not have any effect on whether or not the victim is granted benefits under VAWA.
Benefits may also be available to victims in the following circumstances:
- the marriage was terminated within the past two years and the reason for the end of the marriage was connected to the domestic violence, or;
- the abuser lost his immigration status within the last two years due to the domestic violence, or;
- the U.S. citizen abuser husband died in the past two years, or;
- the husband was married to someone else at the same time he was married to the victim.
Fact Source: Colorado Bar Association
To read from the beginning… #MyStory starts here.